Author Archives: Marmon Hammer

RIP: Poly Styrene

Poly Styrene. Photograph: Ian Dickson/Rex Features (1991)

Poly Styrene (Marianne Joan Elliott-Said b. July 3, 1957 – Bromley, Kent, England) succumbed to cancer on Monday, April 25th, 2011 just two months after diagnosis. If you aren’t familiar with her incredible contributions to music do yourself a favor and check out X-ray Spex and her solo output. Required listening. I still remember hearing “Oh! Bondage, Up Yours!” at a very early age on some comp my brother had – it hit home right away and has stayed with me ever since. Germfree Adolescents is one of the best records ever made, and I still listen to it on a regular basis. Just incredible stuff. Her new record, Generation Indigo, was heartbreakingly released a day after her passing. I’ve been giving it a listen and it’s just as eclectic and good as her other sporadic solo efforts. There’s been a great outpouring of warmth and memories across the world, a testament to the impact she had and the deep appreciation afforded her by the people she touched. The world was and is a much better place for her having walked it for too short a time. Rest in peace, Poly.

The Guardian UK eulogy, and Dave Simpson’s remembrance.

X-Ray Spex were about “not trying to be like anybody else, but being yourself. High energy, youthful music, creativity. Better than expressing yourself through crime. Being in a band, saying what you want. It was better than being in a girl gang.”

She explained how, as punk turned from liberating force to straitjacket, she’d quit the band – after being pelted with tomatoes during a gig in Paris. “We’d tried to change our sound,” she explained. “They didn’t like that, the anarchists in their black leather jackets. They thought it was the French revolution all over again.”


I know I’m artificial/But don’t put the blame on me/I was reared with appliances/In a consumer society

When I put on my make-up/The pretty little mask not me/That’s the way a girl should be/In a consumer society

My existence is elusive/The kind that is supported/By mechanical resources

My existence is elusive/The kind that is supported/By mechanical resources

I wanna be instamatic/I wanna be a frozen pea/I wannna be dehydrated/In a consumer society

In a consumer society/In a consumer society

“Black Christmas”


Sound Waves: Television Personalities

Time for me to start posting good music. Welcome to Sound Waves.

TELEVISION PERSONALITIES – And Don’t the Kids Just Love It (1981, Rough Trade)

The Television Personalities is an English group with a varying line-up. The only constant member is singer–songwriter Dan Treacy, who uses the band as a vehicle for his music. The band’s first release (January 1978) was the single “14th Floor / Oxford Street W1”. Its second release, the EP Where’s Bill Grundy Now? features one of its best-known songs, “Part Time Punks”.

The Television Personalities’ first album And Don’t the Kids Just Love It was released in 1981. It set the template for their subsequent career: neo-psychedelia, an obsession with youth culture of the 1960s, a fey, slightly camp lyrical attitude, and the occasional classic pop song.


Chocolat Art (Live at Forum, Enger 20 September 1984)

Enter Naomi: SST, L.A., and All That… by Joe Carducci

Enter Naomi: SST, L.A., and All That by Joe Carducci

I’d been meaning to read Carducci’s eulogy of Naomi Petersen for a while, and once I got my hands on a copy I stormed through it in no time. Right up my alley to say the least. Much has been written and reviewed about it so I’ll defer to others as, despite being a voracious reader, somehow I don’t have the same comfort in throwing out a book review as I do music. Go figure. Music is more visceral and immediate, and generally something hits me or it doesn’t, even if it can “only” grow on me I’ll generally know. Anyway, here’s what others have said, all credit goes to the associated authors, websites, etc.

This is stolen from the Blastitude blog (an outstanding site in it’s own right), and sums up my feelings accurately as I read through Enter Naomi:

I’ve now read Enter Naomi by Joe Carducci two or three times and I’m not sure if I’ve got what it takes to write about it yet, or ever. By now you might be familiar with the subject, Naomi Peterson, the truly gifted in-house band photographer during the glory years of SST Records. She passed away in 2003 at the age of 39 and her long-time friend and coworker Carducci wrote this book to not only eulogize her, beautifully and expansively, but to eulogize his entire experience at SST Records and how the label epitomized punk as “the nihilist phase of the hippie movement” (“what was left when Hippie found out it had been wrong”), all of which he does in a downright punk-Proustian fashion, fragmented, discursive, occasionally frustrating, and not everyone may want to hang, but there is so much insight here, especially regarding how Black Flag and SST developed, that I’ve been going over the pages again and again. For just one example, there’s the way the book deals with the city of Hermosa Beach as the petri dish where this culture incubated, laying out its history as a surf/beatnik/jazz/boho hamlet where misfits like Greg and Raymond Ginn, Chuck Dukowski, and Spot could really develop a sense of individuality, including such important details as a city highway and transportation system that made it somewhat inconvenient for tourists and daytrippers to ever end up there. The book even reproduces a two-page aerial photo of downtown Hermosa Beach, the Pacific Ocean sprawled out majestically right at the top, with all the key spots annotated. (The Church! The Würmhole! Media Arts! The vegetarian restaurant where Greg met Spot!) I’ve probably spent a full hour staring at this spread alone. Not to mention an extensive excerpt from Peterson’s portfolio, lovingly reproduced, along with lots of other photos, postcards, letters, invoices, and other ephemera that allows these fragments of memory to really take root and grow in the mind of the reader. One of many brief anecdotes that kind of sum everything up is the one about SST Records being in between office spaces and Chuck Dukowski temporarily running the label from a bank of pay phones on a sidewalk in L.A.’s Koreatown. Sez Dukowski, “Once I got started I just grooved and kinda enjoyed what was good about the situation: outside, stuff going on, ya know.” Sez Carducci, “Chuck’s and the others’ ability to roll with anything and enjoy it no matter how goofy, embarrassing, or dangerous was one of the fundamental building blocks of Black Flag and the SST approach.” Hell yeah, that ability is one of the fundamental building blocks of any kind of life with any guts, thanks again to Naomi, Joe, Chuck and everyone else for the examples.

James Parker (author of Turned On: A Biography f Henry Rollins) in the Boston Phoenix:

Joe Carducci (Naomi Petersen)

Naomi Petersen was not famous. Neither was she semi-famous, almost famous, post-famous, or notorious. Nonentity, indeed, seems to have been closer to the elements of her nature than celebrity. Success (conventionally measured) was of little interest to her; at times of stress she was a blackout drunk; and the love of her life was the no-hope clangor of the LA punk-rock underground. She died alone in a hotel room, in 2003, at the age of 38, and it would be years before some of her friends even knew she was gone.

And now there is a book about her: Enter Naomi: SST, L.A. and All That . . . (Redoubt Press). Why? Because one of those friends was Joe Carducci, prose master and author of Rock & the Pop Narcotic. Carducci got to know Petersen at the start of the ’80s, when he was working for SST Records and she was a meek, damaged, but adventurous teenager, parlaying her skill with a camera and her intuitive relationship with the SST roster into an unofficial gig as the label’s house photographer. Black Flag, Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Hüsker Dü, Saccharine Trust, Saint Vitus: the jutting, image-allergic strangeness of these bands entered the prism of her lens and came out somehow . . . viable, without being in the least palliated or diminished. Carducci watched Petersen grow as a photographer and as a woman, admired and pitied her for the shit she had to take in an uncompromisingly male, low-rent environment (“There was something of a toll that women or girls paid when they got next to Black Flag” ), and then — as the fires of punk rock shrank to the brooding embers of pre-Nirvana “alternative music” — lost touch. Hearing of her death two years after the fact, in 2005, he was horrified; in his subsequent attempt to rescue something from the oblivion that had overtaken their friendship can be found the germ of this remarkable book.

Carducci is crankily unapologetic in his conviction that the American musical rebellion of the early ’80s, particularly as manifested in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, was freakdom’s last stand. “Our closing frontier,” he writes in Enter Naomi, “was the sixties cultural revolution as it died out in the seventies and early eighties. In retrospect the Black Flag/SST story looks like a cultural analogue to the Manson-Weathermen-S.L.A.-Black Panther-Nixon White House-People’s Temple endgame — art just had more life in it than crime or politics or religion.”

Maybe all elegies are manifestos in a sense, and all manifestos elegies. At the heart of it all, of course, are Black Flag — a band, Carducci writes, “evolved to withstand failure on any scale.” Chaotic, imprisoned head music allied to huge discipline: the indeflectibility of Greg Ginn, Flag’s founder/guitar genius and SST boss, was as impressive as it was merciless, and it left plenty of people behind. Among other witnesses, Carducci is kind enough to cite, as fringe testimony, my own portion of the SST literature: an unauthorized biography of Henry Rollins that I wrote back in the Grunge Age. He needn’t have, but as a brief turner over of stones in that area I can vouch for his evocation of the SST world as a sort of Darwinian bohemia, where minds and bodies exposed themselves to constant hazard in pursuit of some quite unnamable satisfaction. These people lived under desks, with strips of floor carpeting for makeshift curtains, eating crackers and dogfood. And when they went out on the road, everybody wanted to beat them up! I exaggerate only slightly. They were, Carducci writes, “the best people money couldn’t buy,” in an age when involvement with good music “cost you something.”

Books that resist generic classification are condemned, by definition, to find their own audience: it takes as long as it takes. Enter Naomi, like Geoff Dyer’s non-biography of D.H. Lawrence Out of Sheer Rage, Joseph Mitchell’s tramp arcanum Joe Gould’s Secret, or J.R. Ackerley’s canine valentine My Dog Tulip, is a one-off, and its strangeness and formlessness more or less guarantee it an undetermined period of literary exile. But history will not, in the end, be able to resist it. The kids will be listening to Black Flag’s Damaged one day, or Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade, and they’ll want to know: these nutters, how did they do it? What improbable victories were theirs? And at what cost? And Enter Naomi, as a document, a monument, a work of art, and — not least — a love letter, will come into the kingdom.

Steve Appleford in the LA Weekly:

Naomi Petersen (photo: Marco Mathieu)

This stuff is dangerous, and that was part of its charm, before punk became a fashion statement and major-label marketing plan, instead of what it first represented: a venue for unpredictable aggression and the avant-garde. SST in Hermosa Beach was about something else. And in 1990, Carducci wrote his own history lesson and 300-page manifesto, fueled by a desire for a return to the carnality of pure rock & roll, and fearing that the whole movement would be forgotten otherwise. His Rock and the Pop Narcotic was as startling and obsessive a statement on rock and its impostors as Richard Meltzer’s TheAesthetics of Rock had been for another generation of disagreeable rock thinkers.

Carducci’s now done the same for Naomi Petersen, the house photographer for SST, who died in 2003. His memoir, Enter Naomi: SST, L.A. and All That, takes a hard look back at his time in L.A., at the music and contradictions of that scene, and what it meant to be a woman in the uncompromising world of Black Flag.

Carducci left SST back in 1986, amid growing tension at the label. He wanted to get back to writing. He kept in touch with Petersen for another decade by mail after returning to his former home of Chicago, then moving to Wyoming. She contributed some photographs to his Rock and the Pop Narcotic. But he lost touch with her until hearing of her death, after years of fading health and heavy drinking.

Carducci wrote Enter Naomi not simply because Petersen had died, but because it took two years for him to even hear about it. “It really was like a gut punch,” says Carducci, now 52. “And it goes back to that night when she was bleeding on the floor from her wrists. I was afraid of this in some way.”

Enter Naomi is lovingly researched and bluntly told in rich detail, sometimes lifting from Petersen’s journal entries (“Fucked day — someone shot my car”). It’s also an impressionistic view, at times requiring some awareness of the SST scene and certain events to fully grasp. But Carducci takes it deeper, as only one who knew the players could.

Needless to say, this is truly an important book for its insights into the subjects touched upon above. You can get your own copy via Night Heron Books.

NY/NJ, I Am Inside You

Just got into Newark, on the way to Hoboken. New Jersey makes Russia look like paradise. The grizzled old African cabbie giving me a lift appears to have been so tenured that he only communicates with hand and arm gestures – and they make sense!

Passed the two biggest parking lots I’ve ever seen. Apparently workers at a Toyota factory. Ironic considering their “green” stature. No green around here.

The ghettos here are epic, and the old brick architecture wicked. One in the same in some cases.

Oh yeah, this is supposed to be the “cool” part of New Jersey. WFMU is here so it can’t be all bad. Time to get lunch, check work, make some calls, and find a record store.

Fuck, this place is decaying. Architectural racism in full effect! So glad I never to the job I was offered here. Would’ve been pretty big bucks, but the East Coast ain’t for me. The West is the best. Guy next to me waiting to check in relaying the celebs he’s seen. Good thing this isn’t Texas, he’d be laughed out of the place.

Forgot to mention that everyone here is a variation on “Guido”. So far, anyway. Work will be a blessing if this shit continues.

Nice hotel. I’m exhausted. Hoboken makes sense in that you’re not paying NYC prices, and you’re minutes from Manhattan via the train. Still not convinced I could live here. That’s always the tell-tale sign. Not a fan of anywhere that’s “nice to visit”. Can I fucking hang there? That’s the question.

Holy shit, Luca Brasi’s. Saving me. I miss neighborhood deli’s.

For the record, the cops here seem pretty heavy.

Great day in the Village. Generation Records is a rad store – tons of good vinyl. Had 2 badass huge Black Flag record store tour posters – 1 from the first tour in ’81 and 1 from the My War tour. Aqua Grill for dinner: unbelievable. Looks like I may have to stay through the weekend. Why not do Record Store Day here?

Wire @ Mohawk – Austin, TX

At Wire. Hate to say it, but it’s pretty lame. No energy from band or crowd. Pretty disappointing setlist, show, crowd, etc. We’ll always have the first couple of LPs.

Record Store Day! 4.16.2011

Saturday, April 16th, 2011 is Record Store Day and Austin has a ton of our great local record stores participating. Go buy some records and support your local businesses! We’re lucky to have ’em, and there’s no better day (and way) to show your support and appreciation.

Out of the Past Collectibles Austin, TX WEBSITE
Antone’s Record Shop Austin, TX WEBSITE
Musicmania Austin, TX WEBSITE
End of an Ear Austin, TX WEBSITE
BackSpin Records Austin, TX WEBSITE
Cheapo Austin, TX WEBSITE
Snake Eyes Vinyl Austin, TX WEBSITE
Waterloo Records Austin, TX WEBSITE
Immortal Performances Austin, TX
Encore Records Austin, TX WEBSITE
Trailer Space Records Austin, TX WEBSITE
Cheapo Records Austin, TX WEBSITE

Austin, TX: April Shows

Monday, 4th

  • Rotting Christ, Melechesh, Hate, Abigail Williams, Lecherous Nocturne, Prolicide at Emo’s [a] [m] [+] [inside]
  • Dale Watson & his Lone Stars at the Continental Club [a] [m] [+] [10pm]

6th, Wednesday

  • The Residents at the Mohawk [a] [m] [+] [outside, 7:30pm]

8th, Friday

  • Wire at the Mohawk [a] [m] [+] [outside, 9pm]

11th, Monday

  • Anal Cunt, Naw Dude, Babydick, Hug at Emo’s [a] [m] [+] [inside]
  • Dale Watson & his Lone Stars at the Continental Club [a] [m] [+] [10pm]

14th, Thursday

  • Gogol Bordello at Stubb’s [a] [m] [+] [outside, 6pm]

16th, Saturday – RECORD STORE DAY!!!

  • Exhorder, Rigor Mortis, Dead Earth Politics, HOD, The Blood Royale at Emo’s [a] [m] [+] [outside]
  • Reggae Fest After-Party with Israel Vibration at Flamingo Cantina [a] [m] [+]

17th, Sunday

  • Austin Reggae Festival with Israel Vibration & the Roots Radics Band (8pm), Mau Mau Chaplains (6pm), Cinco Doce (4:30pm), Bachaco (3pm), Bandulus (1:30pm), D.R.U.M. (noon) at Auditorium Shores (950 W. Riverside Dr.) [+] [gates at 11am]

23rd, Saturday

  • The Meatmen, The Bulemics, Against the Grain, Night Siege at Red 7 [a] [m] [+] [8pm]
  • Thou, Massgrave, PLF, Megaton Leviathan, Chestpain, Mindless at the Broken Neck [a] [m] [+]

24th, Sunday

  • Karma to Burn, Honky, Fur Kings at Emo’s [a] [m] [+] [inside]

29th, Friday

  • T-Model Ford at Emo’s [a] [m] [+] [inside]

Austin Psych Fest 4

  • Omar A. Rodriquez (12:30am), A Place to Bury Strangers (11:30pm), Crystal Stilts (10:30pm), Atlas Sound (9:30pm), Night Beats (8:30pm), Beach Fossils (7:30pm), ZaZa (6:30pm) at Seaholm Power Plant (214 West Avenue) [+] [stage one]
  • This Will Destroy You (2am), Tobacco (1am), No Joy (midnight), Shapes Have Fangs (11pm), Radio Moscow (10pm), Quarter After (9pm), Blue Angel Lounge (8pm), Zechs Marquis (7pm), Sky Drops (6pm), Christian Bland (5:30pm) at Seaholm Power Plant (214 West Avenue) [+] [stage two]

30th, Saturday

  • Floor, Mammoth Grinder at the Mohawk [a] [m] [+] [outside, 8pm]

Austin Psych Fest 4

  • Spectrum (12:30pm), Black Moth Super Rainbow (11:30pm), Prefuse 73 (10:30pm), Crocodiles (9:30pm), Fresh and Onlys (8:30pm), Sleepy Sun (7:30pm), Black Ryder (6:30pm), Beaches (5:30pm), Shine Brothers (4:30pm), Woodsman (3:30pm), Ghost Box Orchestra (2:30pm) at Seaholm Power Plant (214 West Avenue) [+] [stage one]
  • The Meek (2am), Bass Drum of Death (1am), Lower Heaven (midnight), Soft Moon (11pm), Indian Jewelry (10pm), Young Prisms (9pm), Lumerians (8pm), White Hills (7pm), Pontiak (6:10pm), Cloudland Canyon (5:20pm), Vacant Lots (4:30pm), Weird Owl (3:40pm), Holy Wave (2:50pm), Tjutjuna (2pm) at Seaholm Power Plant (214 West Avenue) [+] [stage two]

*Mostly stolen directly from Showlist Austin (all credit for the listings, links, etc. go to them, I’m just sifting out the bullshit for ya).

Maryland Deathfest: Baltimore, May 26-30, 2011

Maryland Deathfest IX will be going off in Baltimore, May 26th-30th, 2011, and I have 1 extra 4 day pass. If I know you, I have the ticket and hotel taken care of, you just need a flight. If not, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to let you know how to buy the pass. I’m selling it for under face value, and as of this writing there are officially under 30 left on the MDF ticket page! Check out the bandlist, then tell me this ain’t a great fucking deal.


Inquisition “Upon the Fire Winged Demon”


Ghost “Ritual”


Marduk “The Black Tormentor of Satan”


Neurosis “To What End”


Orange Goblin “Scorpionica”

George Jones @ Rodeo Austin

The Ol’ Possum played the Rodeo Austin: Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo in place of the incomparable Loretta Lynn, and it was a night for a lifetime for a fan. There couldn’t have been more than a few thousand people there, and George still rocked it as best he could. He’s definitely getting old and his voice is having trouble hitting all of the old notes, but that didn’t stop him from rolling out versions of “Why Baby Why” and a great medley of “White Lightning/The Window Up Above/She Thinks I Still Care”. The older, faster tunes definitely needed to be slowed down so he could keep up, and he and the band have structured the set so that he has what I would call a co-singer that helps fill the gaps in the songs he has trouble and the band delivers several rockin’ fun instrumental bluegrass tunes to help give his voice a rest and fill out the set. They rest of the night was mostly down-tempo hits from the 70s and 80s like “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and gospel tunes, and it was an all-around fun time to see George do his thing, have fun, and not miss a beat.

He promised they’d be back before it was all over , and I highly encourage you to see him if you get a chance. He seemed in great spirits, but there was a certain sadness that crept into the proceedings when he talked about how the world doesn’t care about “traditional country music” (i.e., the only real country music) and he seemed to feel largely forgotten about. That seemed to me an incredible tragedy. We’ve lost enough culture over the last 10 years, it’s a shame that real, good music is fading in favor of plastic, electronic voice tuning, sugar, money, and plastic.

I, for one, will never forget…


Here’s to hoping that Loretta will stop back in to make up for canceling too, it doesn’t get any better than this…

Rotting Christ @ Emo’s

Well, what the fuck?! I’m at the Rotting Christ show at Emo’s, there’s less than 100 people here. Utterly bizarre. Obviously one of the best metal bands of the last 20 years will have no incentive for returning. They’re about to go on…

Rotting Christ “King of Stellar War” – Fuzz Club, Athens – January 8, 2011

What a show! They destroyed in a tiny room to a tiny crowd. Seems that they cut the set short a bit, but they played their asses off anyway. Let that be a lesson to you. They played about half new songs from AEALO and half songs from Triarchy of the Lost Lovers, Non-Servium, Passage to Arcturo, etc. I lost my shit during “King of a Stellar War” as I’ve been waiting since 1996 to hear it live. Fuckin’ incredible.

You motherfuckers are pathetic. One of your favorite bands comes to town and NOBODY shows up?! Amazing. There were probably 60 or 70 people there total, and they had to be 90% from San Antonio and surrounding areas. If there we’re more than 10 people from Austin, I’d be shocked. The band kept saying, “Thanks, Austin!”…little did they know. You people are a goddamned embarrassment.

As was said, “thanks, Austin”. You missed an amazing show, and didn’t give any band any reason to ever come to this town again. I hope you had fun sitting on your asses at home just like you’ll keep resting on your non-existent musical laurels. Maybe if you saw how a real band does it you’d make something of your own fading musical aspirations. Here’s to all of you never having your shows attended again and having the paying customers rightfully laugh you off the stage. As a friend said at the show, “they’re all sitting around at home playing Woody Guthrie songs”. Nothing wrong with that if that’s your new thing and you’ve outgrown metal or whatever your sad excuse is, but I didn’t see you at George Jones either. Come to think of it, most of you don’t do shit. Consider this a big fuck off for ever supporting your bands again. Very few of you know what the hell you’re doing anyway, it’s just that nobody but me has the balls to tell you.

You lazy, delusional, burnout rehashers of the previous season’s styles. You’ll never get it.

Thanks, Austin.